Govt urged to fast-track new terminal
More delays will 'harm tourism'
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand on Wednesday urged the new government to speed up construction of the second terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport, warning a delay will affect tourism.
CAAT chief Chula Sukmanop made the call after the 42-billion-baht construction plan was halted.
"A further delay will affect the airport's management," he said.
His opinion differed from the Ministry of Transport and the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) which put the project on hold last month for not being "compatible" with other infrastructure development schemes.
Transport officials and the government's think-thank earlier suspended the plan because the new design greatly differed from the original masterplan written over a decade ago.
In the original plan, the new terminal known as T2 was to be built in the southern area of the airport, almost 10 kilometres from the currently used main terminal in the northern area.
In the revised plan, the second terminal will be located in a different area.
The 42-billion baht terminal will be built near the existing terminal and a 500-metre monorail will be built to shuttle passengers from the main terminal to the second.
Permanent secretary for transport Chaiwat Thongkamkoon has insisted that the project will be built, but Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT), which operates Suvarnabhumi, must resubmit a more comprehensive blueprint.
"It will eventually depend on the Transport Ministry and the NESDB," Mr Chula said, adding the CAAT is not authorised to make a decision.
Suvarnabhumi, which opened in 2006, is designed to serve 40 million passengers a year, but that number has risen to 70 million.
"That's nearly half of total travellers in the country," Mr Chula said.
Last year, the number of domestic and international passengers stood at 162 million and they are expected to reach 180 million this year, the CAAT chief said.
The AoT needs to digitalise and better manage many services at Suvarnabhumi in order to help relieve its overcrowding in the long run, Mr Chula said.
Identity-scanning systems should be installed at check-in counters to speed up the process of examining passengers.
The current process often ends up as a bottleneck at the immigration control area, he said.
Such services as smart phone applications showing flight schedules and facilitating travellers' check-in will also help better manage their time, he added.